Richard Moore: How many millions make a disaster

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Can anyone out there tell me why the Psa-V outbreak devastating the Bay's main export-earning industry has not been declared a disaster?

It is expected to damage the industry to the tune of about $885 million and has cost hundreds of jobs already, with the prospect of hundreds more going in the future.

Many orchardists have been ruined, while others are just holding on to their businesses by their fingertips.

Any money they are spending is going on saving their vines, or attempting to rebuild with new varieties of kiwifruit, and neither are guaranteed success.

Last week I went out to Rob Thode's orchards (one in Papamoa and the other in Te Puke) to see what is going on first hand.

As we walked round he pointed out Psa-V hit vines, marked with red tape, and he talked about the steps he was taking and methods he was trying to save his livelihood.

But they cost big money and, with a limited crop last year, things are exceptionally tight. Putting groceries on the family table looks an ever tougher proposition each week.

Rob's Te Puke orchard was at ground zero, where the Psa-V pestilence was allowed to run free.

He is still fuming that New Zealand's much lauded bio-security failed so spectacularly over Psa-V, saying that almost every rule was ignored or broken when the poison-chalice shipment arrived.

And then came the equally spectacular failure by authorities to contain the disease and deal with it early, which led to a "firestorm" of infection.

Rob wants to see an adverse-event declaration from the Government to allow orchardists access to assistance.

"We don't want a handout, we want a hand-up," he says.

Now that could include access to Working for Families, labour assistance, emergency benefits, new-start grants and special assistance grants.

Rob also said growers need protection from mortgagee sales for at least two years, as any sale currently would be a fire sale, resulting in owners' equity being wiped out.

Last year Hawke's Bay farmers benefited after the Government declared a medium adverse event following storms and floods.

And yet the Government has refused such assistance for Bay of Plenty orchardists.

Why?

After all it was the Ministry of Ag and Forestry's poor handling of the breakout that allowed Psa-V in and then let it run so rampant.

The Bay's economy needs to have a healthy horticultural industry.

As the growers tighten their belts, so businesses in the Bay suffer as well. And it isn't just in agricultural areas but across the retailing board. It is a nasty cycle that is spiralling down in an economic death dive.

So, again, why isn't there any official help coming in the way of an adverse event declaration by the Government?

We taxpayers are forking out a fortune - about $18 billion - to rebuild Christchurch, so what is an extra couple of hundred million to rebuild a major export earner?


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Oh boy, the stinky stuff is about to hit the fan in this country and it seems we won't have the water to wash it off ourselves.

The Maori King Tuheitia reckons Maori own New Zealand's water, in a statement that drowns any semblance of equality in this nation.

Prime Minister John Key says no one owns the water here and you won't get an argument from me against that.

Maori have no more right to this nation's resources than any other group or person who was born here.

I can say that because, as an Aussie, the issue does not affect me one whit.

But I do smile at the idea that in this modern world anyone can claim ownership of water or air, based purely on their race.

Let's face it, Maori arrived in New Zealand by canoe about 800 years ago. They were the first settlers here. Then 200 years ago Europeans sailed here and became the second lot of settlers.

Ever since then anyone born within these shakey shores is indigenous to this land and can have a sacred connection to it. Any group that tries to claim sole rights to nature's gifts is just trying it on big time.


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Well done to the Tauranga City Council for going ahead with a walkway in Pilot Bay.

It has been long needed and will be a major boost for those wishing to promenade near that pretty stretch of beach without fear of turning an ankle on the uneven ground.

When finances are improved I'm looking forward to having a cycle and walkway running from the Mount down through Omanu to Papamoa.

richard@richardmoore.com

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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